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Recap / Supernatural S01 E01 “Pilot”

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 1, Episode 1:


Dean: Dad hasn't been home in a few days.
Sam: So he's working overtime on a Miller Time shift. He'll stumble back in sooner or later.
Dean: Dad's on a hunting trip. And he hasn't been home in a few days.

Written by Eric Kripke.

Directed by David Nutter.

Airdate: September 13, 2005.

Dean asks his brother to join him when their father disappears investigating a supernatural creature in Jericho, California.

On November 2, 1983, Mary Winchester was killed in the family home in Lawrence, Kansas, by an unknown supernatural creature, in front of her husband John and her sons, Dean and Sam. In the present day, Sam is a law student at Stanford University with a loving girlfriend named Jessica and a promising career—until Dean arrives, asking for help in tracking down their father. John has been on one of his frequent "hunting" trips, where he tracks down and kills supernatural creatures: John and the boys have been doing this since their mother's death, but Sam left the hunting life to attend college after a falling-out with his father. John hasn't returned from his latest trip, and Dean is worried. Sam agrees to help Dean look for their father.

The brothers track down the last creature John was hunting, a Woman in White named Constance Welch, who had killed her children and then herself after learning her husband was cheating on her. Constance's ghost kills unfaithful men who drive across the bridge she jumped off of. Sam and Dean force her to return home to confront the waiting spirits of her children and she vanishes, screaming. They also find John's journal, full of all his information on various creatures as well as the record of his hunt for the creature that killed Mary, but they can't find John.

Sam returns to Stanford, but when he returns to his dorm, he finds Jessica suspended on the ceiling, bleeding and consumed by fire, the exact same way his mother died. Now that it's personal, Sam agrees to partner up with Dean and return to hunting, hoping that along the way they can find their father and finally destroy the creature that killed their mother and Jessica.

Body count:

For this episode = 3 humans and 3 ghosts, starting Supernatural off with the death of a Love Interest and a Parent.


  • A Minor Kidroduction: The episode opens with Dean as a 4-year-old and Sam as a baby.
  • Attack Hello: The brothers' reunion at Stanford, at least on Dean's part. With Sam, it's more a case of Friend or Foe?.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts
  • Big Bad: Constance Welch, the Woman in White haunting the stretch of road.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Dean saying good night to baby Sammy and taking him out of the house in the fire.
  • Big "NO!": Sam screams this when he saw Jessica on the ceiling dead.
  • Book Ends: The beginning of the episode has John's wife gutted and roasted above Sam's crib while she's wearing a white nightgown. The ending has Sam's girlfriend/would-be fiancée gutted and roasted above her and Sam's bed while she's wearing a white nightgown.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Jessica's death shows Sam he must return to hunting and was not meant to continue his college studies.
  • Car Meets House: Sam rams the Impala into the Welches' abandoned house. Dean was not pleased.
  • Characterization Marches On: In retrospective, Dean looks more immature in his first appearance than he was portrayed later. He breaks into Sam's apartment, assaults him in the dark to test his practice, flirts briefly with Jessica, and only then reveals that he came because their father went missing. Later, Dean takes stuff like that seriously and would tell Sam from the jump what's going on.
  • Cool Car: Dean's 1967 Chevrolet Impala with an armory in the trunk and a tape deck.
  • Covered in Mud: Dean after he jumped off the bridge.
    Sam: [to Dean] You smell like a toilet.
  • Creepy Child: Constance's children.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: How Constance sneaks up on Sam.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dean.
    Officer: So, fake U.S. Marshall. Fake credit cards. You got anything that's real?
    Dean: My boobs.
  • Disappeared Dad: The central plotline for the first season kicks off when Dean comes to get Sam from Stanford because John's gone missing.
  • Disposable Woman: Mary Winchester and Jessica.
  • Dope Slap: When Dean starts snarking at the police investigating the latest missing person, Sam steps on his foot. So, as they're walking away, Dean swats him across the back of his head.
  • Doom Magnet: The Winchester brothers, Sam more than Dean in this episode.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Averted when Constance tries to forcefully take Sam.
  • Driven to Suicide: Constance.
  • Foreshadowing
    Sam: What would I do without you?
    Jessica: Mm, crash and burn.
    [They kiss]
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts:
    • The static on the baby monitor, when Sam's crying wakes Mary up.
    • The flickering light in the hallway that Mary taps.
    • EVP on John's message to Dean.
  • Ethereal White Dress: Constance Welch's story is in the tradition of La Llorona and many other women in white who haunt rivers and lakes. The ladies in this episode start the fine Supernatural tradition of white dresses meaning that the character wearing said dress is evil, dead, or both.
  • The Faceless: The shadowed silhouette only seen from behind standing over Sam's crib.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Sam explains the phenomena.
    Sam: See, when they were alive, their husbands were unfaithful to them. And these women, basically suffering from temporary insanity, murdered their children.
  • First-Episode Twist:
    • Jessica's death.
    • Sam rejoining Dean as a hunter.
  • Good Is Not Nice: It's made clear that our heroes are not Occult Detectives but are operating outside the law, funding their activities through petty crimes like credit card fraud.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Blood on the windows of the Volkswagen.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: John's journal. Dean steals it back from the police when he is temporarily taken into custody.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Dean unlocks his handcuffs with a paperclip.
  • Heavy Metal: The soundtrack of Supernatural is established:
    Sam: [going though Dean's tapes] Black Sabbath? Motörhead? Metallica? It's the greatest hits of mullet rock.
    Dean: House rules, Sammy. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The life of a hunter.
  • Homicide Machine: The ghost sends the Impala after the Winchesters, and they have to jump off Sylvania Bridge to avoid getting crushed. Dean ends up covered in mud, but it wasn't Baby's fault: she was possessed.
  • History Repeats Itself: Sam loses his girlfriend in the same way he lost his mother when he was a baby, and he is taken to safety by Dean both times.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: A double whammy: it's Halloween (October 31st) and, later on, the anniversary of their mother's death (November 2nd, which is also All Souls' Day or the Day of the Dead).
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: Sam and Dean have been estranged for several years when Dean shows up to recruit Sam to help him find their dad. Sam is reluctant to join, but Dean insists he needs his brother.
    Dean: I can't do this on my own.
    Sam: Yes, you can.
    Dean: Well, I don't want to.
  • Iconic Item: From the very start we have:
    • Dean's amulet: a horned head held around his neck on a black string.
    • The 1967 Chevrolet Impala.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Sam Winchester.
    Dean: [to Sam] So, what are you gonna do? Just live some normal, apple-pie life? Is that it?
  • I'm Melting!: Constance Welch and her children become a puddle of water after flashes of light and fire.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Constance feels perfectly justified in trying to kill Sam after he's "unfaithful" - that is, after she attempts to sexually assault him. It doesn't end well for her.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's "Sam", not "Sammy".
    Sam: You know, Sammy is a chubby twelve-year-old. It's Sam, okay?
  • It's Personal: For John and Dean after Mary's death, but Sam was only an infant then. It's not personal for him until Jessica's death exactly twenty-two years later.
  • Karmic Death: More like "karmic dragging down to Hell", but this is what happens to Constance when she goes home.
  • Killed Off for Real: Mary Winchester and Jessica Moore.
  • Literal Cliff Hanger: Sam and Dean jump off the bridge to avoid getting run over. Sam ends up on a pipe attached to the bridge, but Dean falls in the river and gets Covered in Mud.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Jessica.
  • The Lost Lenore: Sam is haunted by Jessica's death for a long time.
  • Loveable Rogue: Dean, who hits on his brother's girlfriend, runs credit card schemes, impersonates officers of the law, and plays his music loud.
  • Male Gaze: Constance Welch's cleavage, seen through the eyes of the driver who picks her up.
  • Mangst:
    Sam: Hey, Dean, what I said earlier about Mom and Dad, I'm sorry.
    Dean: [holds up his hand to shut Sam up] No chick-flick moments.
    Sam: All right, jerk.
    Dean: Bitch.
  • Meaningful Echo: Constance always tells the drivers who pick her up "take me home." The problem is, she can never go home because her vengeful children are waiting for her inside the abandoned house that used to be her home. When it's over and Constance has been banished, Sam tells Dean he's through hunting and Dean says, "I'll take you home." The problem now is that Sam can't go home because Jessica is dead, the yellow-eyed demon is responsible, and Sam leaves college and normal life behind to become a Hunter once more.
  • Missing Mom
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Jessica's Halloween costume.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Dean listens to music from the 60s-80s on a tape deck.
    Sam: I swear, man, you have got to update your cassette tape collection.
    Dean: Why?
    Sam: Well, for one: they're cassette tapes.
  • Offing the Offspring: Constance drowned her own children before jumping off a bridge and committing suicide. They get their revenge at the end of the episode when their spirits drag hers to Hell.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Mary Winchester.
  • Rain of Blood: The blood dripping onto John's hand in Sam's crib and the blood that drips on Sam when he lies down in his bed.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Mary and Jess.
  • Sentient Vehicle: The ghost possesses the Impala and uses it to chase down the Winchesters and force them off the bridge.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To both The Brady Bunch and the The Cosby Show:
      Sam: We're not exactly the Bradys.
      Friend: And I'm not exactly the Huxtables.
    • When Dean sees Jessica's tight shirt, he says, "I love The Smurfs".
    • Sam makes a lot of references to alcohol when talking about where his father might be:
      Sam: So he's working overtime on a Miller Time shift. He'll stumble back in sooner or later.
      Sam: Yeah, he's just deer-hunting up at the cabin, and he's probably got Jim, Jack, and Jose along with him. We're just gonna go bring him back.
    • Dean calls two FBI agents Agent Mulder and Agent Scully.
    • When the police spot Dean, he calls Sam and says, "Dude, Five-O. Take off".
    • Dean asks the police if he is in "misdemeanor trouble, or, uh, squeal-like-a-pig trouble?"
    • Sam asks Dean what he was thinking when he shot Casper in the face.
  • Sibling Team: Dean and Sam.
  • The Spartan Way: The way the Winchester brothers were raised.
    Sam: You think Mom would have wanted this for us? The weapon training and the melting the silver into bullets. Man, Dean, we were raised like warriors.
  • Speak in Unison: This will be a Running Gag for the Winchester brothers.
    Sam and Dean: What do they talk about?
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Mary and Jessica, but with a supernatural cause.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Jess for Sam.
  • Themed Aliases: Dean claims to be Ted Nugent, when questioned by the police, starting his list of classic rock aliases.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night:
    Sam: Yeah? When I told Dad when I was scared of the thing in my closet he gave me a .45.
    Dean: Well, what was he supposed to do?
    Sam: I was 9 years old! He was supposed to say "don't be afraid of the dark".
    Dean: Don't be afraid of the dark? What, are you kidding me? Of course you should be afraid of the dark! You know what's out there!
  • Tough Love: The way John raised the boys and how Dean raised Sam.
  • Through His Stomach: Jessica baked Sam cookies while he was away.
  • Walking the Earth: The loss of their mother and home is the start of a nomadic life for the Winchesters.
  • Watching Troy Burn: John Winchester, hugging his sons in the light of the fire trucks, realizes all that he has lost.
  • Wham Shot: Jessica burning pinned on the ceiling.
  • White Sheep: The source of Sam's two-year-long estrangement from his family is his decision to go to college.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Constance Welch.
  • You Killed My Mother: Dean's feelings towards the being that killed Mary Winchester.